Outdoor Living Spaces Add Value

Warm weather has come to Lawrence, and for most of us that means we’ll be enjoying more time outdoors. If you’re a homeowner you have the opportunity to create outdoor living spaces to extend your home’s functionality and boost its value. Some homeowners want outdoor spaces with high-end furnishings and features. They want to enjoy music, television and movies outside. It’s not just grills or swimming pools that they dream of, but a true extension of their indoor living space. Other homeowners simply want a space to sit outside and read a book, have a cool drink on a hot evening or visit with family after a long day at work.

Whatever you want from your outdoor space and whether you have a small patio or an expansive backyard, you can achieve your goals. Here are several tips that can help you enhance your outdoor living area.

Add container gardens. Pots and plants come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and prices. They offer wonderful color and can help accessorize or define your space. Potted herbs are beautiful, aromatic and useful. Who wouldn’t love to snip a bit of fresh basil to use when making dinner?

Use a variety of seating options. A variety of benches, chairs and stools will ensure that you and your guests have plenty of seating to enjoy the space. Some options could include storage underneath to add functionality.

Add a fire source to make the space cozy. Whether you have a full fireplace or a portable fire pit, people will be drawn to it. It’s nice to sit outside on a cool evening and feel the warmth of a fire, and it’s enjoyable to toast marshmallows with your family and friends.

Use landscaping to add privacy. You may love your neighbors, but sometimes you prefer to spend time outside privately. Shrubs, dwarf trees, and containers with vines climbing up a trellis are great ways to shield your space.

Remember the lighting. The sun sets late during spring and summer months, but you still want a light source for your outdoor living. Candles can set the mood, and lights strung under a pergola brighten the area so your evening can continue well after sun-down.

Use your best judgement. No matter how elaborate the space may be, it costs money to create and maintain. Don’t overspend for your neighborhood if you want to recoup that money when you sell.

We’re ready to help! When you decide to buy or sell contact Stephens Real Estate or Contact Us.

Downtown Lawrence

What can be said about Downtown Lawrence that hasn’t already been written and told in dozens of travel blogs, websites, and word-of-mouth recommendations? Our town has been included in numerous best-of lists, recently being named as one of the “Most Interesting Destinations in the US” by Expedia.com. And College Ranker provided advice to those looking to move to a college town by naming Lawrence one of the “50 Best College Towns to Live in Forever.” That’s a ringing endorsement!

Downtown Lawrence is the heart of our city and a one-of-a-kind destination. It’s a pedestrian-friendly area offering plenty of diversity and variety. From Mass Street - the main thoroughfare - and beyond there are plenty of fantastic local restaurants and coffee shops, unique retail shops and art stores.

Frequent festivals and events such as the Free State Festival, the Busker Festival, the Side-Walk Sale, Final Fridays, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Farmer’s Market, and many outdoor concerts and movies take place downtown. South Park, Watson Park, Burcham Park, the Lawrence Pool, and the renovated Lawrence Public Library are among a long list of destinations. All of these things along with the vibrant nightlife guarantee that there is something here for kids ages 1 to 101. Downtown Lawrence is the vibrant hub of the city and an exciting cultural focal point for the Midwest.

Housing types available: multi-family, condos, single-family (East Lawrence neighborhood). Housing features available: maintenance free, open floor plans, updated finishes, off street parking, historic single-family homes, affordable housing.

Stephens Real Estate is locally owned and proud of the great town in which we live. We are an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know the Lawrence market, and they have the experience and the connections to help you find the home that’s right for you. Call us at 785-841-4500 or Contact Us.

Locust Street Marketplace

Drive north across the bridge over the Kansas River, take a quick right on Locust Street, drive a few blocks to 7th and you will discover a charming little shopping district in North Lawrence known as the Locust Street Marketplace. It’s off the beaten path and many people find out about it by word of mouth from others who have been pleasantly surprised by their experiences there.

The Locust Street Marketplace has shops with unique home décor, antiques, re-purposed furnishings, charming accessories and perhaps even vintage clothing. The store-fronts are picturesque and inviting, welcoming you inside for some leisurely browsing.

There are several restaurants and coffee houses nearby to complete your outing, and we recommend taking a camera - the photo opps are plentiful. The shops aren’t open every day; some of them only on Friday and Saturday, so you will want to plan ahead. Another helpful tip: the merchandise sells quickly so when you see something you like, don’t take too long to make your decision (similar to the real estate market in Lawrence right now).

Enjoy your Saturday paper and then take a drive across the bridge to Locust Street.

Stephens Real Estate is locally owned and proud of the great town in which we live. We are an independent, full service company linked to Lawrence through roots that run decades deep. Our agents know the Lawrence market, and have the experience and the connections to help you find the home that’s right for you. Call us at 785.841.4500 or Contact Us.

East Lawrence

The historic East Lawrence neighborhood, or “ELNA” pronounced “EL-NAH,” contains some of the most active community members and the highest concentration of artists in the city of Lawrence, KS. Comprised of homes and businesses east of Massachusetts Street, the sense of community and identity here is as distinct in our town as our town is in the state of Kansas.

There is a wide variety of homes to be found in East Lawrence, from those nearly as old as the town itself to homes with modern, forward-thinking designs that appear to be pulled from the pages of Dwell Magazine. With Downtown nearby and quick access to numerous trails and bike paths, the neighborhood is tucked into a convenient and beautiful part of our beautiful town.

While it is one of the older areas of the city, it is not without recent changes. The old warehouses at 9th and Pennsylvania have been turned into the Warehouse Arts District, and along New Hampshire Street brand new mid-rise condos are developing. If you want an opportunity to find an urban oasis in Lawrence, East Lawrence is where you will find a home.

Housing types available in ELNA: single family, multi-family, apartments, condos, single floor living, rental units, historic homes, new construction. Housing features available: high walkability, complete street, friendly neighbors, lower average home price.

Stephens Real Estate is ready to help you find your perfect home in your perfect neighborhood. Our agents know the Lawrence market, and they have the experience and the connections to help you find the home that’s right for you. Call us at 785-841-4500 or Contact Us.

Mid-Century Modern in Lawrence

Lawrence Modern

Characterized by strong horizontal lines, open floor plans and a seamless flow between interior and exterior spaces, mid-century modern homes - built from 1945 to the late 1960’s - are becoming as popular now as they were then.

After World War II there was a sense of optimism and a desire to do things differently than the prior generation. American culture promoted modern residential architecture and furnishings as a new and convenient way to live. You could even purchase home plans designed by an architect from magazines and then have a local builder construct your home. Many of the house designs from that period highlighted the use of natural materials such as stone, exposed wood and large panes of glass.

The KU School of Architecture was influential due to several faculty members who changed the focus of the department from the Beaux Arts style to modernism. Several faculty members had been apprentices with Frank Lloyd Wright. KU was one of the first Universities in the mid-west to teach modernism. Many students later became architects and designed some of the significant mid-century homes in Lawrence. We are fortunate to still have quite a few interesting examples of these homes intact and preserved.

Stephens Realtor, Tom Harper founded Lawrence Modern in 2002 and soon joined forces with Bill Steele and architectural historian Dennis Domer. They spearheaded an extensive two-year survey of mid-century modern houses in Lawrence. After rating 33 homes on criteria ranging from the home’s condition to the spatial relationship of exterior elements, they chose 13 houses -- a “Baker’s Dozen” -- to highlight on their site.

Lawrence Modern aims to raise awareness of midcentury and modern architecture in Lawrence. Their goal is to encourage preservation of these homes which will ensure that future generations in Lawrence will have significant examples to appreciate and to live in.

We invite you to take a few minutes and explore lawrencemodern.com.

The Right Time to Buy

The Right Time to Buy

Spring 2016 is a good time to buy a home, and the real estate market in Lawrence is heating up now. Many choose to buy in the spring because the upcoming summer break is a great time to transition to a new neighborhood and school. While rental rates are expected to rise, mortgage rates are still low, there are down payment assistance programs available for some buyers, and you can reap major tax benefits.

If you decide this is the time for you to buy, you realize it is likely the biggest financial decision of your life. It makes sense to hire a professional to help. Stephens Broker Chris Earl says, “I recommend hiring a buyer’s agent for anyone looking to buy a home. Our Realtors know what they’re doing. They know the Lawrence market, and they have the experience and the connections to help you find the home that’s right for you. The spring market is fast-paced, and your Stephens agent can help find homes you may not see online. They will work for you from the initial consultation to the closing of your new home, and the commission charged to the seller typically pays your agent’s fee.”  

So, how do you go about finding the right agent? Chris Earl or Pat McCandless, Co-Owners and Brokers at Stephens, will be happy to recommend an agent based on your specific list of wishes. Or you can visit our website – stephensre.com – to read about each agent.  There are lots of different people on our team and you’re sure to find your best match.

Today, most buyers begin their home search online. The Stephens website is a great place to search. We feature our listings plus everything from the multiple listing service in the Douglas County area. Many buyers find value – and a bit of fun – in visiting open houses. An open house may help you set realistic expectations, fine-tune your search criteria and make market comparisons.

We also recommend that you visit with a mortgage lender for loan pre-approval, so you are ready to act when you find the perfect home. Your lender can help you find a payment that best fits your budget. Working with a local lender is a good idea because they know what is expected in our market and are invested in our community.

We’re ready to help you find your new home. Contact us and let us know how we can help.

Moving Day

You’re excited about moving out of your old place and into your new home, but there’s a lot to think about. Stephens Real Estate has a few tips to help your move go as smoothly as possible.

Only move what you want to keep. There’s no reason to move boxes that haven’t been opened since your last move. Sort items into 3 piles: keep it, donate it, trash it, and then get rid of the clutter. You’ll thank yourself when it’s time to unpack at the new place.

Label everything. Use a marker and write on every side of the box or use the “Moving Day” free app for iPhones, to help you print bar-coded labels and keep inventory sheets. You will know what’s inside each box and in which room it belongs.

It takes teamwork. When people offer to help, whether it’s dropping off a pizza for dinner or helping move furniture, accept. Be ready when they arrive. Have blank inventory sheets so you can divide and conquer. One person can handle each area or room.

Have the right supplies. You will need permanent markers, pens, tape, labels, inventory sheets and scissors. Have sturdy boxes in different sizes. Moving companies usually sell boxes and packing materials and offer refunds for unused supplies. Remember to have water, food and snacks available for moving day.

Be creative. For extra padding, pack your glasses and stemware in clean socks. Pack your plates with foam disposable plates between them. Take a photo of how your electronics are connected so you can remember how and where all the wires go.

Pack a moving day kit with essentials that you will need for moving day: cleaning supplies, light bulbs, toilet paper, garbage bags, toiletries, and a change of clothes for each member of the family.

Protect your valuables. Find a safe place to store your valuables on moving day. Insure anything that is valuable or breakable. Backup important files and photographs stored on your computer just in case something happens in transit.

Be ready for your first night in your new home. Only unpack what you will need immediately. Ask your new neighbors for restaurant recommendations. If you have kids or pets, try to get them set up and establish their regular routines right away. Then take a break and re-energize. The boxes will be there tomorrow.

There are lots of details to consider when moving. The Stephens Pinterest page has great ideas, including a pin with 10 apps for your smartphone or tablet. Visit pinterest.com/stephensreks, and look for our Packing and Moving board.

Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

You’ve heard it before: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. This steadfast advice isn’t just for interviews and first dates; it’s also applicable to your home. That’s why experts from home builders to real estate agents sing the praises of stellar curb appeal. Your Stephens agent will be happy to give you tips on how to put your home’s best foot forward. Here are some good ways to increase your home’s curb appeal:

Shake up shutters. Don’t be tempted to ignore your shutters. They provide a great opportunity to add a splash of color to your home’s exterior without going overboard. Pull shutters down and clean them up with soap and water before adding a fresh coat of paint. Make sure to get enough paint so you can freshen your front door in the matching color as well for a coordinating look that can enhance curb appeal.

Pretty the patio. Front patios should be inviting and complement the entryway. For dated and dirty concrete slabs, special paint can instantly provide an eye-catching focal point that looks like new. Old or rotting wood surfaces may be replaced with composite deck boards like Evergrain Composite Decking. This compression-molded product creates the look of wood without painting or staining. Add extra touches that warm the area. The addition of a wicker chair, a few potted plants and a new welcome mat can make a world of difference in boosting curb appeal.

Love the landscaping. Overgrown plants, messy mulch and low-hanging tree branches can kill curb appeal fast. Take a look at your home from the street and notice whether plants and flower beds need attention. Keep bushes and trees neatly trimmed, deadhead flowers and pull plants that are past season to increase curb appeal. Finally, add a fresh layer of mulch to cut down on weeds and provide a fresh look.

Revamp the roof. If a dingy old roof is killing your curb appeal, a style and color upgrade can breathe new life into your home’s facade. The first step is to evaluate roofing options for style consistency with your home’s existing siding. For a traditional look, try a shingle with colors and tones that mimic what’s found in nature, such as TAMKO’s Heritage line. Some styles are manufactured to resemble wood shake for a classic upscale look at a lower cost. (BPT)

We’re ready to help you buy or sell your home. Call us or contact us.

Old West Lawrence

Old West Lawrence House

Old West Lawrence or OWL - like the bird - is one of Lawrence’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods. In the town’s early days, this was where the “who’s who” of Lawrence lived.

After Quantrill’s 1863 raid, Old West Lawrence boomed from 1880-1930 with the rebuilding of homes. It has recently reclaimed its prominence as the place for KU professors and deans, doctors, lawyers, and other influential, yet very friendly, Lawrencians. Homes here are eye-catching and memorable for their grandeur and quality craftsmanship; and these Queen Anne, Tutor, and Italianate homes are known across the country.

Many homes in the Old West Lawrence neighborhood have been meticulously maintained or refurbished to their original splendor. Some of Lawrence’s most notable and unique homes still can be found here, even after years of the town’s westward expansion. Interest in the neighborhood as a prime destination continues to be renewed as residents have invested in their homes to preserve their curb appeal, their historical integrity, and their interior beauty.

The pride of ownership here spills into the yards and streets where OWL is known for its friendly neighborliness and sense of place. This area has mostly single-family homes, although some have rooms for rent and others are available on long-term leases.

Stephens Real Estate is ready to help you find your perfect home in your perfect neighborhood. Our agents know the Lawrence market, and they have the experience and the connections to help you find the home that’s right for you. Call us at 785-841-4500 or Contact Us.

Spring is the Time to Plant Trees

Summertime Tree

Stephens Real Estate is all about helping you buy or sell your home. So why would we write about trees? With Arbor Day just around the corner, we started thinking about benefits of trees – to our environment, our community, and even to our bottom line as homeowners. A well-chosen tree adds curb appeal, and a well-maintained yard can eventually fetch a higher price and quicker sale for your home.

This time of year, many homeowners are ready to get back into the yard. Early starts in the garden and yard ensure lush, healthy plants - especially if you're planting trees. Young trees do best when they are put into the ground in spring and have ample time to establish themselves in the soil before extreme heat hits.

Few things can be so practical and as beautiful as a tree. It's no wonder that with the rising popularity of the do-it-yourself lifestyle, more homeowners are deciding to plant trees in their yard. Here are four simple reasons why:

1. Trees can reduce energy costs by providing shade to a house in the summer.

2. Trees naturally offset carbon emissions.

3. Because many change from season to season, trees add a variety of different colors to your yard and allow for a range of creative choices and combinations.

4. Trees help make memories. Watching a tree grow in your yard from year to year builds a connection between you, your family, your home and the memories you make there.

Get started with 10 free trees

The nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation is encouraging people to get an early start on their tree planting this year by offering 10 free flowering trees with a $10 membership. Which 10 flowering trees a new member will receive is based on what the state forester recommends or other trees selected for your area to ensure they thrive when planted.

The 6 to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow and are currently scheduled to be shipped in March or April, a perfect time for optimal, early season planting. So if you're already getting excited about spring projects, visit www.arborday.org/earlyplanting to make sure your trees arrive at the right time for planting where you live. (BPT)

It’s a Great Time to Sell

 Great Time to Sell House Image

Spring is just around the corner which means the real estate market is heating up. If you have been thinking about selling your home, there are several good reasons why now is the time to list.

Currently, Lawrence has a shortage of homes for sale. Listings that are in good condition and priced right are selling quickly. Since the beginning of 2016 we’ve seen several instances of sellers receiving multiple offers on their homes.

Stephens Broker Pat McCandless says, “If you’re thinking of selling your home, the best decision you will make is to work with a Realtor – and we have plenty of them to choose from. A Stephens agent will be able to recommend what you should do to get your home ready to sell. They will help you arrive at the best price for your home according to its condition, a current market analysis, and recent buying trends in Lawrence.” And Stephens Real Estate is a full service agency, so in addition to your agent you get the benefit of our support team. We’re fully prepared to help you every step of the way – from listing to closing.

Deciding to list your home takes some preparation. An agent understands what appeals to buyers and can help you get your home looking its very best. Curb appeal – making the most of your home’s appearance on the outside - is important in attracting buyers. It may be as simple as adding fresh mulch to your flower bed, trimming your shrubs and trees, and planting flowers to add color. Or you may choose to add a fresh coat of paint to your front door. Spring is the perfect opportunity to do this as the grass turns green, trees starts to bud and flowers begin to bloom. Don’t underestimate the importance of curb appeal. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Staging your home – arranging the interior to make it look its best – is important in giving potential buyers a good feeling about the space. If they feel comfortable, they may be able to imagine themselves living there. Your home should be clutter-free and clean. Fresh paint and clean carpet will help your home show well. Even details like making sure your house smells fresh and having it properly lit are important. Ask your agent how to stage your home so it shows to its best advantage.

It’s a great time to sell and we’re ready to help. If you’re interested in listing your home contact us.

Stephens Real Estate, Inc.
2701 W. Sixth Street
Lawrence, KS 66049

Phone: 785-841-4500
Toll-Free: 1-800-875-4315